What Does Poland Call Santa?
In Poland, Santa Claus is known as “Święty Mikołaj” which translates to Saint Nicholas. The Polish tradition surrounding Santa Claus is deeply rooted in religious customs and folklore. Although the modern depiction of Santa Claus has become more popular in recent years, the traditional figure of Święty Mikołaj is still cherished by Polish families during the Christmas season.
The Origins of Święty Mikołaj in Poland:
The tradition of Święty Mikołaj in Poland dates back to early Christian times when Saint Nicholas, a Greek bishop, was known for his generosity and gift-giving. Saint Nicholas’ legend spread throughout Europe and eventually made its way to Poland. Over time, the story of Saint Nicholas merged with other local customs and folklore, resulting in the creation of the Polish version of Santa Claus.
Święty Mikołaj’s Appearance and Role:
Święty Mikołaj is often depicted as an older man with a long white beard and dressed in a red robe. He carries a sack filled with gifts for children and is accompanied by an angel or other figures, such as “Gwiazdor” (the Starman), who rewards well-behaved children with presents. In many Polish communities, it is a tradition for children to recite poems or sing songs for Święty Mikołaj in exchange for their presents.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Is Święty Mikołaj celebrated in Poland on the same day as Santa Claus in other countries?
Yes, Święty Mikołaj is celebrated in Poland on December 6th, which is known as “Mikołajki” or Saint Nicholas’ Day. This is when children receive their gifts from Święty Mikołaj.
2. Do Polish children hang stockings for Święty Mikołaj?
No, in Poland, children traditionally place their shoes by the door or under the Christmas tree for Święty Mikołaj to fill with presents.
3. Are there any special treats or food associated with Święty Mikołaj?
Yes, in Poland, it is common to leave some cookies, milk, or a shot of vodka for Święty Mikołaj as a gesture of appreciation.
4. Does Święty Mikołaj visit every Polish household?
Yes, Święty Mikołaj is believed to visit every Polish household on the night of December 5th or early morning on December 6th to deliver gifts to children.
5. Are there any specific customs or traditions associated with Święty Mikołaj in Poland?
Yes, apart from reciting poems or singing songs for Święty Mikołaj, it is also common for children to leave hay or straw under the tablecloth as a reminder of the stable where Jesus was born.
6. How does the modern depiction of Santa Claus influence the celebration of Święty Mikołaj?
While the modern depiction of Santa Claus has gained popularity in Poland, especially through commercial influences, the traditional figure of Święty Mikołaj still holds a special place in Polish culture and is widely celebrated.
7. Is there any regional variation in the celebration of Święty Mikołaj in Poland?
Yes, there are some regional variations in Poland. For example, in some regions, Święty Mikołaj is accompanied by “Krampusz,” a figure who represents the naughty side and punishes misbehaving children. However, the overall concept and significance of Święty Mikołaj remain the same throughout the country.
In conclusion, in Poland, Santa Claus is known as Święty Mikołaj, and his traditional depiction is deeply rooted in religious customs and folklore. Celebrated on December 6th, Święty Mikołaj brings joy and gifts to children, while the Polish tradition emphasizes the importance of good behavior and gratitude. Though the modern Santa Claus has gained popularity, the Polish people continue to cherish and celebrate the unique figure of Święty Mikołaj during the festive Christmas season.